A Republican Drama

Via @Billy, Just Billy, who saved screenshots:

I understand that the reason his insurance claim was denied is that he was using his own car for his job (delivering pizza), but had a personal insurance policy, not a professional one, which costs more but covers job-related accidents.

So now he’s running a GoFundMe campaign to pay his bills. As of this writing, he’s raised $2,225 of his $15,000 goal.

In a book or movie, this would be the point where Our Hero has an epiphany: that accidents can happen to anyone, even the young and healthy. That medical care is fucking expensive (and replacement cars ain’t cheap either). That having to ask people for money while you’re busy getting your spine, your car, and your job back together is another pain in the ass.

It might also lead one to wonder: what if he didn’t have 30,000 Twitter followers who could chip in? Or if he didn’t happen to be young and photogenic? How long would it take him to pay his medical bills on a pizza delivery guy’s salary?

Wouldn’t it be great if there were some way to have something like a GoFundMe that scales? Maybe something where people pay in while they’re healthy and able to draw a salary, and can then get help paying unexpected bills so they don’t go broke from being sick or in an accident? What if, in short, there were such a thing as medical insurance?

However, we don’t live in a movie, and as of this writing, Sassy Gay Republican still seems to equate universal healthcare insurance with tyranny or some similar right-wing talking point. But while he may be cutting off his nose to spite his face, the rest of us can use him as an object lesson.

Pope Accused of Covering Up Child Rape in Argentina

Just a reminder that the Catholic Church’s child-abuse coverup scandal isn’t over.

According to Le Monde (in French only; sorry. But here’s a story from last year about this case), lawyers are accusing the Catholic church of covering up child rape and abuse in Italy and Argentina, the current pope’s old stomping grounds. Not only that, but they say that Jorge Bergoglio, now better known as Pope Francis, was personally warned about fifteen abusive priests in 2014, and that he did nothing.
One of the victims claims to have given a copy of the letter to the pope in person, in 2015. So this isn’t ancient history, and it can’t be blamed on the previous administration.
The current case involves children at the Provolo Institute for the Deaf in Mendoza, Argentina. Not only were the victims children, which is bad enough, but they were deaf, meaning that they had additional difficulties making themselves understood, since sometimes even their own parents didn’t know sign.
Although the Catholic church has allegedly conducted its own investigation, it hasn’t shared its results with the Argentine authorities. In other words, the Catholic church was shielding child abusers from justice, as of just a few years ago.
That makes it a criminal organization. If you’re still a Catholic, why?

Satire Is Officially Broken

Here are two items from recent media:

Sean Spicer Walking Around White House In Sunglasses And Baseball Cap To Avoid Press

“After Spicer spent several minutes hidden in the bushes behind these sets, Janet Montesi, an executive assistant in the press office, emerged and told reporters that Spicer would answer some questions, as long as he was not filmed doing so. Spicer then emerged. ‘Just turn the lights off. Turn the lights off,’ he ordered.

Quiz time: which of these is from the Washington Post, and which is from the Onion?

Answers: the first is from The Onion. The second piece is from The Washington Post.

Church Graffiti: “Trump Nation, Whites Only”

(Update: WTOP and the Silver Spring Patch have the story.)

The Episcopal Diocese of Washington tells us that a banner at their church in Hillandale, MD was defaced last night:

episcopal-church-vandalism
Racist graffiti at the Episcopal church in Hillandale, MD, Nov. 12, 2016.

On the back of a banner advertising mass in Spanish, someone wrote “Trump Nation” and “whites only”.
Does it really need to be said that this kind of racism1 is unacceptable, especially in the 21st century2? Apparently it is. Apparently this crap isn’t confined to places like Alabama, or even rural America: the church in question is just a few hundred yards from the Beltway, right in my area.
I don’t know whether this is something new, or something hidden that the rise of Trump dredged up to the surface, but either way, I have to at least stand up and say that this is unambiguously wrong. That if you think this is an acceptable way to bring about change, then you can fuck off into a basement somewhere, and know that you’re just a step above literal neo-nazis (assuming you’re not already one of them).


1. Someone is bound to say that “Spanish” isn’t a race, so this isn’t racism. Those people can fuck off, and take the “false flag” crowd with them.
2. And someone else is bound to ask why what’s moral and immoral depends on what year it is. These people should also fuck off and ponder which years have the most hindsight to learn from.

Disorganized Post-Election Thoughts

1. Fuck. Seriously, what the fuck?

I realize this is a very widely-held opinion,  it today, I am not particularly contrarian.

2. Corollary: how did everyone manage to get this wrong? Polls, pundits, prognosticators all had Clinton in the lead, and comfortably so. Unless there were shenanigans, they all got it wrong in a failure of Dewey-defeats-Truman-es que proportions. And I haven’t seen any obvious signs of unforeseen shenanigans.

3. Could there have ban shenanigans? Could Anonymous or someone have rigged the election? I suppose anything’s possible, and I’m sure people will be looking into this possibility in the coming days, but it doesn’t feel like it.

Rather, this feels like a systemic mistake everyone made. Like underestimating how many bigots would come out to vote for one of their own.

4. In a way, this is understandable, because even though Trump’s an unabashed bigot and sexist who’s broken many of the rules everyone took for granted, surely some ground rules must still hold, right? Like, having a GOTV operation to get your voters to the poll helps you, and not having one hurts you, right?

And for this reason, I can’t really resent the people who voted for third-party candidates and handed Trump victory in races that turned out to be closer than expected. They probably didn’t think they were really going to change anything, and neither did any of the rest of us.

5. Looking forward, it’s possible that the Trump regime won’t be as bad as we fear. For as much as he’s talked about setting up horrible policies, he’s not Hitler. He’s not enough of an ideologue for that. He’s just in it for the attention and the glory.

Of course, that means that we need to start worrying about what de facto policymaker Mike Pence is going to do.

6. And related to point 5, since the Republican party is going to be in control of the presidency and both chambers of Congress, whatever happens over the next two to four years, they’re going to own it. If it turns out to be good, then great, although given recent history, I have low hopes for the Republican party.

But if it turns to shit, don’t let them forget it.

7. And as a follow-up, dust off your activism handbooks, because we’re going to need them. I’m not advocating an intransigent obstructionism like what Republicans have been inflicting on Obama for the past eight years. Oppose bad ideas, not Republican ideas.

8. Finally, no, I don’t have any uplifting parting thoughts, or even a picture of a kitten. Come back later.

“Spirit Cooking”: They Got Nothin’

The latest thing conservatives have got a bug up their ass about concerns something called “Spirit Cooking”. This is an art project by artist Marina Abramovic from 1996. It’s presented as pages from a cookbook, including such “recipes” as

3 glasses of water
that a ruby has been soaking in for 3 days
1 pomegranate

which looks to me like par for the course for a performance artist in the 90s. Other “recipes” call for “fresh morning urine” OR “fresh breast milk with fresh sperm milk”. According to the Washington Times article, above, she sounds like a mystic, somewhat crunchy-granola, and provocative. Again, par for the course in the art world.

So why is this suddenly showing up in the political news section? Because WikiLeaks has released an email message from Tony Podesta to John Podesta, relaying an invitation to Abramovic’s Spirit Dinner event.

So we have a weird-ass artist. She knows Tony Podesta, who’s the brother of John Podesta, who’s Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager and generally an important person in American politics. She uses her connection with Tony to invite John, as you do.

And apparently the conclusion to draw here is that John Podesta is into drinking urine or satanic rituals or something, and by extension, that Hillary Clinton is unfit to be president. Or something like that.

If that’s the best they’ve got, I’m not impressed. Or rather, I’m impressed that people so disconnected from reality manage to tie their shoes in the morning.

Is Peeing A Sacrament?

Erick Erickson has an article with the sensational headline, “State of Iowa Says Churches Must Let Men Use the Women’s Bathroom” (retweeted by the lachrymose Glenn Beck). ZOMG! The big bad government is sending legions of men in dresses to diddle your children in your very churches! And they’re not Catholic priests, even! Be afraid!

The government FAQ linked to says,

DOES THIS LAW APPLY TO CHURCHES?

Sometimes. Iowa law provides that these protections do not apply to religious institutions with respect to any religion-based qualifications when such qualifications are related to a bona fide religious purpose. Where qualifications are not related to a bona fide religious purpose, churches are still subject to the law’s provisions. (e.g. a child care facility operated at a church or a church service open to the public).

This, of course, raises the question of what consitutes a “bona fide religious purpose”. Erickson spends some time talking about cases about who is and isn’t a minister, then admitting that no church has actually been, you know, oppressed, before reminding you to stay scared of creeping liberalism and impending tyranny.

But I still want an answer to the question: what’s a bona fide religious purpose for a bathroom, even in a church? Is peeing a sacrament? I know that the Bible includes the phrase “he that pisseth against the wall”, but it just seems to mean “man and boy”. There’s 2 Kings 18:27 (note to Donald Trump: that’s pronounced “second Kings”, not “two kings”):

But Rabshakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?

But not only doesn’t this sound like an exhortation for good Christians to emulate, they’re not even using a bathroom.

Obviously, maybe some church has a religious ritual for peeing, one that’s not found in the Bible. But in that case, I want to see the church in question explain itself.

So You’ve Poked Your Eye Out

Tower of Parliament in Planet of the Apes
Image by @jeremiahtolbert. Used with permission.

If you are or have a parent, you’re no doubt familiar with expressions like “It’s fun until somebody gets hurt” or “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!” in A Christmas Story. In one of those rare cases where Russian is more compact than English, my dad would use the word “доигрались” (“do-ee-GRA-lees’”) when my brother and I played too rough and someone wound up getting hurt. It’s from “играть” (“ee-grat’”, to play) and the prefix “do-”, meaning “until” or “up to the point that”.

We’d play, he’d tell us to be more careful, we’d ignore him, and then someone’s knee would get scraped or head bumped, or something in the house would be broken. And my father would look at us and say, “доигрались”, “So you didn’t think, didn’t listen, and now…” and the “and now” would be there for all to see, too obvious to mention.

That’s a word that’s been coming to mind a lot lately. The Republican party has spent decades cultivating anger, ignorance, and xenophobia. Now they have an ignorant, xenophobic candidate whom they can’t control. Доигрались.

Churches have spent decades, even centuries vilifying women and LGBT people, and now they’re panicking because young people aren’t joining. Доигрались.

Most recently, Britons have decided that they hate foreigners so much, they’re going to divorce Europe, and sent the Pound into free fall. It’s still too early to tell what the final outcome will be, but I’m still thinking, доигрались.

SMH.

BillDo Opines on the Reason Rally

Oh, goody! BillDo has written a piece about this Saturday’s Reason Rally on the National Mall (are you coming? If you’re an atheist, agnostic, freethinker, none, or anywhere in that general ballpark, you should totally come). Shall we see what nuggets of wisdom he might share with us from the depths of his pious bowels?

They stand for nothing, believe in nothing, and many are good for nothing.

Feel that Christian love! BillDo usually has his panties in a knot, but here he looks like a jamboree at Victoria’s Secret.

Most of the speakers are nobodies

I suppose that depends how you define “nobody”. It’s true that none of the major party candidates will be speaking, and no sitting presidents or senators. But I count two sitting Representatives (Tulsi Gabbard, D-HI and Rep. Bobby Scott, D-VA), as well as House candidate Jamie raskin (D-MD).

I also count a number of scientists and entertainers, including more Wu Tang Clan members than I realized (then again, I’m an old, and I don’t follow the hippity-hop).

But hark! Bill continues:

an exception being Penn Jillette: He is known for his obscene rants against Mother Teresa.

Actually, no: he’s known for being a stage magician. Pointing out that the Albanian worshiper of suffering may not be all she was cracked up to be is just a sideline.

Has Penn talked about her, since that one episode of Bullshit!? If so, I’m not aware of it. Maybe Bill is still butthurt 11 years after that show aired?

Besides bashing Christians, the speakers will discuss “climate change, LGBT rights, sex education, and social justice issues.” Exactly what the atheist perspective is on these issues is a mystery (if I may use that word).

Wait, seriously? Bill thinks there’s something provocative, edgy, or even clever about using the word “mystery” in a secular context? Does he think atheists don’t read murder mysteries?

What is really striking, however, is that the rally is showcasing how important the atheist vote is, thus suggesting that their group-think community is anything but a home for “freethinkers.”

So he just told us that he doesn’t know what atheists think about climate change, LGBT rights, etc, but he knows we all believe the same thing? Is that anything like saying, “I don’t understand the doctrine of the Trinity, but I believe it to be true”?

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is cashing in on the event by spending hundreds of millions on newspaper ads telling readers how unfair it is that their leader, Dan Barker, was denied a request to deliver an atheist address to Congress.

“[H]undreds of millions”? Please. A glance at the New York Times’s ad rates shows that a full-page color ad in the International section will set you back $107,075. The FFRF ad is running in three newspapers, so call it something close to half a million bucks. A good chunk of change, but still only half a percent of what Bill is claiming.

But anyway, go on:

David Silverman of American Atheists boasts that there are 40-50 million atheists in the U.S. He makes this figure up.

…says the man who just confused “million” and “thousand”.

Of course, it’s not hard to find other atheists criticizing Silverman for his estimate. But you wouldn’t know it because of all the groupthink.

Paul Ryan Denounces Republican Strategy

You may have heard that establishment Republicans are almost as terrified at the prospect of a Trump presidency as the rest of us. And since they haven’t been able to stop him so far, they’re getting a bit desperate.
So today, Speaker Paul Ryan opened his mouth and said some words:

The Republican party does not prey on people’s prejudices—we appeal to their highest ideals.

Are you fucking kidding me? He would have us believe that he lives in this country, has managed to become Speaker of the House, and yet somehow has never paid attention to electoral politics in the last twenty-some years?

Republicans gave us the Willie Horton ad. They gave us “welfare queens”. They made “9/11” the most commonly-repeated phrase in several conventions.

Republicans were the ones screaming loudest that gay marriage would undermine religious liberty, destroy the family, and probably rain on your Fourth of July barbecue. Ditto gays in the military. And gay scout masters. And now the fearmongering about trans people in bathroom bills is all coming from the right.

Who kept accusing Barack Obama of not being American? Which party gave us “blah people”?

I understand that Ryan doesn’t want Trump to be president. But he’s the culmination of years and years of Republican divisiveness and fearmongering. They, as the saying goes, built that. Preying on people’s prejudices and fears is what Republicans do. Does Ryan really expect anyone to believe otherwise?